Charles Schwab has been known as a leading discount broker for decades, and its online brokerage outfit maintains that reputation. Schwab isnâ€™t cutting any corners with itâ€™s online operation, and clients enjoy a lot more than just inexpensive investing.
In addition to no trading fees and no minimums, youâ€™ll receive great around-the-clock customer service, solid execution, an easy-to-navigate website with a sophisticated trading platform, and a wealth of research and educational tools. Itâ€™s really hard to go wrong here.
Schwab is a great option for all types of investors. Beginners will enjoy its extensive educational resources and responsive customer service, while advanced investors will love its sophisticated trading platform and screeners. All investors will appreciate fee-free trading with the benefits of a full-service broker.
Cost-conscious investors will also like Schwab for its research and plethora of commission-free exchange traded funds (ETFs) and no-load mutual funds. Anyone looking for a complete experience at a bargain price â€” free â€” will feel right at home here.
500 free trades with a qualifying net deposit of $100,000
|Stock trading fees||
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)||
|Commission-free ETFs offered|
|Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered|
|Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor|
|Ease of use|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android|
|Customer support||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 346 branch locations|
Charles Schwab offers three ways to trade: a web platform, a downloadable software platform, and a mobile platform.
In addition to trading platforms, Schwab has a variety of research tools clients can use:
Charles Schwab clients can choose from a healthy selection of investments, including more than 7,200 no-load mutual funds. The platform offers the ability to trade options, futures, bonds and fixed income products.
Although there are no trade fees for stocks, ETFs or Schwab-managed mutual funds, there are some fees associated with other trades:
Margin rates at Schwab start at 9.325% for balances under $25,000. While Fidelityâ€™s rate is the same, TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE have higher rates.
When it comes to cryptocurrency, clients with a Charles Schwab Futures account can trade Cboe Bitcoin Futures on Schwabâ€™s StreetSmart Central or StreetSmart Mobile trading platforms. Real-time quotes for Cboe or CME Bitcoin futures prices can be monitored on StreetSmart trading platforms.
Too many options? Schwab also offers a Personalized Portfolio Builder tool that will use Schwabâ€™s asset allocation models to help you build a diversified portfolio based on your fund preferences (mutual funds or ETFs), risk tolerance and initial investment. (There is no minimum, but Schwab recommends at least $5,000 to allow for proper diversification.)
As a Schwab client, you have access to a wide swath of research tools, from earnings reports and breaking news from Reuters and Briefing.com to customizable options screeners and charting tools. Schwab offers Morningstar Ratings for mutual funds and ETFs, as well as market commentaries from Credit Suisse, Ned Davis, Argus and Market Edge. For stocks, Schwab offers its own proprietary Equity Ratings, Stock Lists and stock screeners, alongside third-party research from Morningstar and others. Schwab also offers ratings on over 4,000 international stocks by Schwab Equity Ratings International.
If youâ€™d rather not DIY, Schwab offers two robo-advisor options:
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios gives clients access to algorithm-based recommendations and portfolio management with no fees aside from the expenses youâ€™ll pay on the investments themselves. Youâ€™ll get a portfolio created from ETFs chosen by experts (from a pool of 53), and your investments will be rebalanced as needed. This option requires a minimum investment of $5,000, which isnâ€™t bad, but other robos require less: Wealthfront and E*TRADE both have account minimums of just $500, and Wealthsimple has no account minimum. (That said, Wealthfront, E*TRADE and Wealthsimple all charge for their services: 0.25% to 0.50%.)
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premiumâ„˘ is less of a slam-dunk unless youâ€™ve got a sizable portfolio. Clients here must bring a minimum investment of $25,000 and get access to both the siteâ€™s robo-advisor recommendations, plus one-on-one guidance from a certified financial planner. However, the service requires a one-time planning fee of $300, and a $30/month advisory fee after that. If youâ€™re just investing $25,000, this fee is on the steep side (percentage wise), but the more you invest, the lower this fee becomes in relation to your portfolio. At $100,000, the $360 per year is just 0.36% of your portfolio. Compare that with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services fees, which are 0.30% of your portfolio and require a $50,000 minimum.
Charles Schwab & Co. is a member of the SIPC and carries insurance of securities up to $500,000, plus excess insurance on securities and cash up to an aggregate claim amount of $600 million. Your cash deposits at Charles Schwab-affiliated banks are FDIC-protected up to the legal limit. Schwab also guarantees 100% loss coverage if you lose any assets due to unauthorized activity.
In terms of site and account technology, Schwab uses multiple layers of controls and technologies, including advanced encryption, to protect client data. They use pattern analysis and other analytics to sniff out suspicious activity, and the platform alerts you when sensitive transactions occur in your account. They also limit the number of employees who have access to your info.
With no fees and no minimums, Charles Schwab investors can access thousands of low-cost funds, along with stocks and other investments. They can access a full gamut of research, 24/7 customer service and trading platforms with advanced features if needed. Itâ€™s hard to beat the total package that Schwab offers investors here. With all these perks, Schwab ranks among the best of the full-service brokers.
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